Biochemistry Careers06/05/2015 18:14:14

Explore biochemistry jobs and other careers that relate to biochemistry. 

What is Biochemistry?
The chemistry of living organisms and their vital processes Biochemistry involves studying the chemistry of living things. This would include substances, compounds and processes. A Biochemist is the person that gets into the most, minute characteristics of organisms, and their biological processes. Although Biochemists have many different areas of specialization from which to choose, almost all of them are required to have good research techniques as well as the ability to synthesize and analyze information.

What does a Biochemist do?
Biochemists have many potential roles within the scientific community, including working with agriculture, pharmaceutical industry and crime labs. An example is that they find new ways to diagnose and treat disease in humans including potentially creating anti-cancer agents and others as possible treatments for disease.

Studying Biochemistry
Biochemistry can be studied as a short course (eg. Biochemistry I), medium duration qualifications (eg. certificates or post graduate courses) or as a bachelors degree. 
The knowledge gained studying biochemistry at any level can be relevant to many industries including agriculture, horticulture, medicine and biotechnology. 

Most biochemists will have at some stage, studied a biochemistry degree (or higher), but having a biochemistry degree is not a guarantee that you can become a biochemist. There are fewer jobs for Jobs for biochemists than degree graduates. 

Biochemistry graduates also possess knowledge and expertise in laboratory techniques and analysis in areas such as:

  • Biotechnology
  • Antibiotics
  • Molecular genetics
  • DNA analysis
  • Toxicological and environmental testing

If you were interested in studying biochemistry, you may need additional knowledge in basic sciences; particularly biology and chemistry, but particularly in biochemistry you would cover:

  • Molecular biology and Novel Molecular Diagnostics
  • Drug Development
  • Stem Cell Therapies
  • Genomics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Gene Therapy
  • Social and Ethical Issues Relating to Genomic Information
  • Patent Law 

Getting Started
In the past, a qualification may have been enough to kick start a career; but in today's world, employers take a more holistic approach to choosing who they employ. They look at your experience, personality, attitude, potential and experience; just as much as what you may have learnt through prior studies. Many people who come to working with biochemistry, may start their career in some lower level job -perhaps in health support; agricultural or veterinary 

Jobs with a Relevance to Biochemistry
With a degree in Biochemistry, an individual would find they have a vast list of careers available. The large industry is that of pharmaceuticals followed by work with the human genome project. Other industries where a Biochemist would work include: 

Private Sector including

  • Biotechnology
  • Food and Drink (includes brewing)
  • Health and Beauty Care
  • Medical Instrument companies
  • Chemical manufacturing companies
  • Research Companies and Laboratories

Public Sector including

  • Scientific laboratories
  • Agriculture and fisheries
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Public Health Entities
  • Blood Service
  • Forensic Science
  • Overseas Development
  • Public Health Laboratories
  • National Blood Services
  • Cancer research institutes
  • Environmental Pollution Control 

Biochemists in other industries

While most biochemist graduates tend to work in a traditional laboratory and research environment. Some biochemists may be attracted to working within a scientific company, but in more non-traditional roles. Possible careers may include recruitment agencies, sales, management and computing. 

Further Study Opportunities 

Biochemists may find opportunities for advancement by expanding qualifications and experience either horizontally or vertically. 
Earning a higher qualification, either through attaining honours, masters or PhD level qualification; or undertaking more diverse study, even at lower academic levels; can greatly increase career possibilities.

As in many other science related fields, higher education qualification such as a PhD may be considered advantageous in some situations (eg working in research); but may also be a disadvantage, if you are trying to broaden your scope of employment possibilities.

In attempting to undertake further study, basic opportunity cost analyses must be taken; further study requires additional time to be taken, with, for example a  certificate may be completed in a matter of months part time; but a PhD sometimes takes 4-5 years as well as requiring high Bachelor's and Master's degree grades.

Sometimes students can find they are over qualified for the basic science positions. Nonetheless there are positives for students including working with the elite field of biochemistry, higher positions, higher wages and higher respect. 

Some specializations for postgraduate biochemistry courses include:

  • Bioinformatics
  • forensic science
  • biotechnology
  • immunology
  • Toxicology 

For more details on our Biochemistry courses:

Biochemistry I (animals)    Biochemistry I (plants) 

Biochemistry II             Biochemistry III